Seattle Councilwoman Called Cops She Tried To Defund Over Crime She's Effectively Legalizing


Lisa Herbold is a Seattle city councilmember. Like many politicians in her corner of the world, she has ways she would like to defund the police and make life easier for those charged with minor offenses.

Unfortunately, it means she could very well be granting de facto legalization to the very crime that spurred her to call the same police department she tried to defund.

On Dec. 11, Herbold called 911 to report a rock thrown at a window at her West Seattle home, according to KTTH-AM radio host Jason Rantz. 

The police report was eventually redacted, but Rantz wrote that he’d confirmed the incident took place at Herbold’s home and that the report stated she said “she was on the west side of the living room near the kitchen when she heard a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot and dove into the kitchen for cover.”

According to Rantz, the report stated that she told police that “her staff has received anonymous phone threats recently, but nothing in particular that links the threats to today’s incident.”

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A neighbor saw the suspect, who was described as a clean-shaven white man in a black hoodie with jeans who was “unathletic and a bad runner,” Rantz reported.

“The witnesses said he would recognize the suspect if he saw him again, but declined the officer’s business card to contact him in the future,” Rantz wrote.

On a related note, Rantz hasn’t been a fan of one of Herbold’s recent proposals — a so-called “poverty defense” that would end in dismissals for individuals who committed misdemeanors out of reasons of need.

“Under Herbold’s proposal, most misdemeanor suspects would get a pass for crimes committed to meet a basic need. It’s essentially a poverty defense. But it goes deeper than that,” he wrote.

Is this proof of liberal hypocrisy?

In a Dec. 15 piece, he called her “an ideologue experimenting on Seattle with a new policy that would codify Seattle’s lawlessness into its criminal code. If passed, it would offer affirmative defenses for nearly all misdemeanor crimes if they were committed to meet a basic need. It’s referred to as a ‘poverty defense.'”

“If you’re poor or homeless, you could effectively get away with stealing from just about anyone or any business in Seattle,” Rantz wrote. “Just say you’re poor and needed to steal that bike or car stereo so you can sell it for money to buy food.

“Of course, the likelihood is that these crimes are driven by addiction that city leadership won’t treat. So they’ll use the cash to buy drugs or alcohol. But Herbold thought of that: The addict also gets a pass. You merely need to show ‘symptoms’ of addiction and it’s your legal pass.”

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According to KOMO-TV, the council took no action on the proposal put forth by Herbold earlier this month, but will debate it in January.

“It’s giving people an opportunity to tell their stories and giving judges and juries the opportunity to hear those stories and make a decision based on the values of our city,” Herbold told Seattle’s Public Safety Committee in a Dec. 8 presentation.

In an irony that seems appropriate for Seattle, Herbold is actually chairwoman of the city council’s Public Safety Committee.

However, it’s worth noting that Herbold’s proposal is based on a draft by public defenders that includes another way for individuals to escape misdemeanor charges — one that would all but eliminate any way to hold the person that threw a rock at Herbold’s window accountable.

As Rantz pointed out when he reported on Herbold’s call to the police, the draft legislation would also extend the same protections to those who were “experiencing symptoms of a behavioral health disorder” when they committed the crime.

Here’s how the state of Washington defines that basic concept: “‘Mental disorder’ means any organic, mental, or emotional impairment which has substantial adverse effects on a person’s cognitive or volitional function.”

The public safety adviser to former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Scott Lindsay, noted in a white paper that “there is no practical way for a prosecutor to disprove a defendant’s claim that they are experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder.”

That’s a recipe for lawlessness, Lindsay wrote.

“The standard to satisfy either of the two ‘symptoms of behavioral health disorder’ defenses is so low, it is euphemistic to call them defenses. For all practical purposes, this legislation would provide blanket immunity from misdemeanor prosecution for virtually all non-DUI/DV defendants,” he wrote, referring to driving under the influence and domestic violence cases.

“Any credible claim of anxiety, depression, trauma, or addiction would make the defendant un-prosecutable for the vast majority of crimes in the Seattle Municipal Code, no matter how many times the defendant had committed the crime or how egregious the circumstances.”

Lindsay has been an outspoken critic of the proposed law, calling it a “green light for crime.”

“If you are engaged in 100 different misdemeanors that are in our criminal justice system code, you are not going to be held liable,” Lindsay said, according to KOMO. “You are not going to be held accountable.”

So, was the Dec. 11 incident at Herbold’s home one of the cases that Herbold’s proposal would simply write off?

“We don’t know the motives of the suspect. On the surface, this seems targeted. Was the man experiencing temporary anxiety or depression over the future of this city thanks to Herbold’s shoddy leadership? If her proposal was currently the law, prosecutors wouldn’t have a case against him,” Rantz wrote.

“Herbold wants a criminal investigation into this man. She should. He broke the law and should be punished. But in Seattle, thanks to councilmembers like Herbold, we don’t punish criminals. We have an aversion to putting people in jail who are threats to society. Usually, the councilmembers aren’t victims themselves. They just create the victims with their permissive policies.”

And there are plenty of victims to go around in Seattle, which has seen record-setting homicides in 2020, according to KING-TV, and a spike in crime of over 500 percent during the height of the CHAZ/CHOP lawless zone this summer, according to Fox News.

Now, Herbold’s proposed law could all but make misdemeanor charges mostly irrelevant — which is no small matter.

“Enforcement of Seattle’s misdemeanor laws is the bulk of the work performed by the Seattle Police Department and non-DUI/DV misdemeanors represent almost half of all the criminal activity interdicted by officers every year,” Lindsay wrote in his white paper.

“In 2019, Seattle Police made an arrest or requested charges against a suspect in approximately 12,000 total non-DUI/DV misdemeanor cases. The City Attorney filed charges in 5,421 non-DUI/DV cases in Seattle Municipal Court in 2019.”

Oh, and as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley pointed out in a Twitter post, this all comes as Seattle is defunding its police department:

In November, the Seattle City Council approved a budget that slashed the police department’s budget by 18 percent, according to Westside Seattle, a local news website. That was bad, but not nearly as bad as defunding the department by 50 percent, which Herbold voted for in July, according to KING.

In a statement to Fox News, Herbold insisted this interpretation of her proposal was a misunderstanding.

“There are no crimes that I am ‘effectively pushing to make legal,” the statement said, according to Fox.

That’s a semantic argument. If there’s a quite literal get-out-of-jail-free card sitting on the table for criminal defendants to use, their crimes have been effectively legalized.

Anita Khandelwal, King County’s director of the Department of Public Defense, told KOMO that “jurors are going to be able to understand when someone is trying to meet an immediate need and when they are not,” at least when it comes to the poverty defense.

That’s debatable, but what about the mental disorder defense? Or the substance abuse disorder defense?

What isn’t debatable is that it’ll be a lot harder to track down, prosecute and convict the man who threw a rock at Herbold’s window if Herbold has her way, no matter what his motivations were. Talk about hypocrisy.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture